Political frenemies: Readers react to poll about party divisions among friends

11 hours ago

Washington( CNN) Reporter’s note: These reactions were gathered by email from readers asked to comment in CNN’s “The Point” newsletter with Chris Cillizza .

But when asked by CNN, some readers said they prefer to skip talking about politics to avoid debates about politics. So how do those few people balance being friends with someone from the other side of the aisle? Some, it seems, choose to stick their heads in the sand.

“I have several friends with different political views, ” Raymond B. Firehock, of Virginia, told CNN in an email. “We remain friends by not discussing politics . … I find Republican( here entailing those who support or tolerate Trump) to be so delusional as to be dangerous, and so impervious to the demands of reality as to be clinically insane. In the words of Philip K. Dick: ‘reality is that which when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

Donald Trump’s tweets as president-elect, annotated

5 days ago

Donald Trump is selecting his cabinet, taking a victory lap around the country, calling world leaders — and tweeting.

January 2, 2017

9: 40 am: Well, the New Year begins. We will, together, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

12: 31 pm: Chicago murder rate is record setting – 4,331 shooting victims with 762 slayings in 2016. If Mayor can’t do it he must ask for Federal help!

SOME CONTEXT: 2016 was the deadliest year in Chicago in virtually two decades. There was more than a 50% increased number of slayings in just one year. Chicago hit 500 homicides before the end of the summer in 2016. In 2015, the city had less than 500 murders total. Here’s a look at how the city got to this point. SOME CONTEXT: Sure, we’ll take this opportunity to promote our volume. It’s great: CNN.com/ book. SOME CONTEXT: Earlier, Putin disposed a recommendation from his government to impose restrictions on the US in reprisal of President Obama’s decision to punish Moscow for its alleged meddling in the US presidential election. Trump instantly pinned this tweet to the top of his profile. SOME CONTEXT: Trump appeared to reverse himself subsequently that day when, responding to a reporter’s topic in Florida, he said the transition was going “very, very smoothly.” He also said he spoke with Obama in what he termed a “nice conversation, ” and later in the day, he said he was get along well with Obama, “aside from a few statements.” SOME CONTEXT: Days before this tweet, a senior Israeli official told CNN that Israel will provide detailed, sensitive information to Trump’s incoming administration about the US role as a covert partner in the UN Security Council resolution denouncing Israel’s settlements in the West Bank. SOME CONTEXT: Obama has blamed his successor, albeit more tacitly. During a historic speech in Pearl harbor alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Obama cautioned against tribalism and isolationism — warnings that, during the campaign, he used to argue against Trump’s candidacy. SOME CONTEXT: Trump said he will dissolve the Trump Foundation as part of efforts to untangle himself of conflicts of interest in the weeks before he is sworn into office. However he’s offered little show into whether he will hires a similar approach to the multi-billion-dollar company he has spent decades building. SOME CONTEXT: Trump sat( and kneeled at times) on Christmas Eve for a two-hour service at the neo-gothic Bethesda-by-the-Sea church in Palm Beach, Florida. He and Melania took communion only past midnight. SOME CONTEXT: Eric Trump decided to halt fundraising activities for his charitable foundation amid fears donors could seek influence with the new administration. SOME CONTEXT: The Israeli government reached out to Trump for help in pressuring the Obama administration to veto a UN Security Council resolution condemn settlement activity, a senior Israeli official told CNN. Publicly, the resolution drew censures from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump, who called on the White House to veto it. Having a President-elect weigh in to influence US policy is highly unusual, analysts said. SOME CONTEXT: Trump shared a letter he received from the Russian President, who exhorted the next US president “to take real steps to restore the framework of bilateral cooperation” while offering Trump his “warmest Christmas and New Year greetings.” SOME CONTEXT: “Drain the swamp” was a refrain of Trump during the presidential campaign, but Newt Gingrich said the president-elect “doesn’t want to use it anymore” now that he’s knee-deep in alligators. SOME CONTEXT: The F-3 5 is the Pentagon’s largest single program and is estimated to cost $400 billion to procure the nation’s next generation fighter fleet. For Lockheed, the F-3 5 is its industrial future. Trump’s tweet has threatened to upend Lockheed’s plans just as his tweets aimed at China has rattled Boeing, which is counting on selling planes to Chinese airlines. SOME CONTEXT: The committee for Trump’s inauguration is pushing back on rumors that it is coming up empty in its attempts to attract big stars. The committee has announced three acts: The Radio City Rockettes, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and 16 -year-old “America’s Got Talent” star Jackie Evancho. But there is apparently some discontent even among that small group. SOME CONTEXT: Trump was responding to an interview Bill Clinton dedicated to the Bedford and Pound Ridge Record-Review, a small weekly newspaper near the Clintons’ New York home. Clinton told the paper that Trump “doesn’t know much, ” but that “one thing he does know is how to get angry, white men to vote for him.” SOME CONTEXT: A dozen people were killed in Berlin when a truck barreled through a crowded Christmas market. German officials are investigating the accident as an act of terrorism. SOME CONTEXT: The official Electoral College referendum was on the working day. Trump received 304 electoral referendums to Hillary Clinton’s 227. Seven “faithless” electors voted for other nominees, expensing Trump two referendums and Clinton five. SOME CONTEXT: The Pentagon said the underwater vehicle was an unclassified piece of equipment conducting routine operations. However, Chinese state media said the drone is the “tip of the iceberg” of US military surveillance in the South China Sea. SOME CONTEXT: At this phase, the CIA, the Director of National Intelligence and the FBI agree Russia meddled in the US elections to help Trump. Days after this tweet, senior GOP and Democratic senators appealed for a select committee to investigate CIA findings SOME CONTEXT: Trump has had a decades-long feud with Carter, editor of Vanity Fair. In 1988, Carter described Trump as a “short-fingered vulgarian, ” an insult that still vexes him. SOME CONTEXT: Here’s what he said last year after coming in second place for Person of the Year. SOME CONTEXT: The Obama administration debated for months on how to respond to the Russian hacks they believed were intended to undermine the elections. But they kept arrived here reasons not to: fear of a wider cyber-conflict, an attempt to save talks with Russia over Syria. Also, the administration didn’t want to give Trump reason to cry foul following what they were certain would be a Clinton victory. Now they are working to prepare a range of reactions that Obama could use to retaliate against Russia — responses that Trump would likely be left to answer for. SOME CONTEXT: Trump rolled out the red carpet at Trump Tower for a select group of celebrities, including Bill Gates, Kanye West and football legends Jim Brown and Ray Lewis. Gates devoted a short statement after his meeting, saying the two talked about the “power of innovation” and “how it can help in health, education, impact foreign aid and energy.” West tweeted that he “wanted to meet with Trump today to discuss multicultural issues.” Lewis and Brown came to discuss Brown’s Amer-I-Can program. MORE Context: Trump spent most of his Tuesday meeting with top Silicon Valley executives. Here’s what they talked about. SOME CONTEXT: Rex Tillerson is the CEO of ExxonMobil and was considered a dark horse in the secretary of state race. With this controversial picking, Trump is setting up what is sure to be a heated Senate confirmation battle. Tillerson has no formal foreign policy experience but has built close relationships with many world leaders. Most notably is his tie to Russian President Vladimir Putin. SOME CONTEXT: A growing chorus of powerful voices on Capitol Hill are calling for a bipartisan probe of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 general elections. The American government publicly announced in October that it was “confident” Russia orchestrated the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other political organisations of the Democratic Party. Earlier this month, the CIA said Russia’s hackers were aimed at helping Trump. MORE CONTEXT: Trump and his transition team have rebuffed concerns about Russian influence in the election, including the CIA’s findings. “These are the same people that told Saddam Hussein had weapons of weapons of mass destruction, ” Trump’s transition team said in a statement. SOME CONTEXT: Trump announced last month that he would hold a December 15 press conference in which he would detail his plan to separate from his businesses. He canceled just days before. Though “hes having” been on a “victory tour” around the US since the election, he has not held a press conference since July. SOME CONTEXT: Trump ended up going with Tillerson as his picking for secretary of state. This was in spite of pushback from both sides of the aisle. REALITY CHECK: Kellyanne Conway later defended Trump’s decision to remain an executive producer on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice” even as he takes office, arguing that “presidents have a right to do things in their spare time.” She compared Trump’s producer credit to Obama’s golf outings. SOME CONTEXT: Chuck Jones has been critical of Trump’s claim to have saved hundreds of jobs at the Carrier plant. He said the bargain was a promise “halfway delivered.” Jones was angry when Trump praised Carrier for “keeping 1,100 people” in chores that won’t move to Mexico. The real number is 800. REALITY CHECK: It’s unclear where Trump got the$ 4 billion figure. A Boeing source familiar with the program told CNN that not even the company can estimate the cost of the program at this time, since “the Pentagon has not even decided all the bells and whistles it wants on the new Air Force One.” It currently has an Air Force One contract worth $170 million. REALITY CHECK: It’s a bit more complicated than that. SOME CONTEXT: Carson rejected a previous offer from Trump to be the next secretary of Health and Human services because he felt he was too inexperienced to run a federal agency, according to longtime aide Armstrong Williams. During their primary fight, Trump derided Carson as “super low energy” and delivered sharp attacks on Twitter, questioning his temperament and qualifications for office. SOME CONTEXT: Alec Baldwin had a lot to tell about this. SOME CONTEXT: Trump overruled decades of diplomatic protocol when he am speaking on the phone with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. The chat marks the first publicly reported call between a US President or President-elect and the leader of Taiwan since Washington established diplomatic relations with Beijing in 1979. China’s foreign ministry afterward lodged a complaint with the United States over the bellow, which 1996 Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole had a hand in organizing. SOME CONTEXT: Trump canceled this meeting on December 13, saying he was busy with the transition. It would have been his first press conference since July. Trump owns or has a position in more than 500 companies. SOME CONTEXT: In instances held before the Supreme court in 1989 and 1990, the human rights of desecrate the American flag was corroborated as a kind of free speech. SOME CONTEXT: This was the evening Trump had dinner with Mitt Romney, who was also reportedly considered for secretary of state. SOME CONTEXT: Trump and Carrier reached a bargain to keep nearly 1,000 mill jobs in Indiana rather than moving a furnace plant to Mexico. The reactions to this deal turned out to be profoundly divided. Turns out the real number was 800 undertakings. To get the higher number, Carrier and Trump are counting 300 administrative and engineering tasks at a different facility in Indianapolis that were never at risk of being shipped to Mexico. SOME CONTEXT: In October, Trump threatened to reverse diplomatic relations with Cuba. SOME CONTEXT: There was talk that Trump was considering Petraeus for secretary of state. Petraeus, once a widely celebrated military leader who oversaw operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, was sentenced on April 23, 2015, to serve two years of probation and pay a $100,000 fine for sharing classified information with his biographer and fan. SOME CONTEXT: This was an attack against CNN for our reporting that Trump’s false voter scam asserts are baseless — which the objective is. SOME CONTEXT: A recount initiated by the Green Party led to this tweetstorm from Trump, reiterating his previous criticism of the effort, taking aim at Clinton. This series of tweets quotes her concession statement.

Major Garrett on encompassing the Trump White House: ‘It’s a wild ride’

6 days ago

( CNN) President Donald Trump has said a lot of bad things about the media since he announced his run for the presidency nearly 3 years ago. He’s suggested that the press doesn’t really like America. He has said the media is the “enemy of the American people.” He classifies narratives that he detests as “fake news.” He has repeatedly called journalists the “most dishonest” people.

CBS News’ Major Garrett has covered every president since Bill Clinton and says none of them were fans of the coverage they received, but President Trump’s off-the-cuff things comments and tweetstorms are unlike anything he’s ever seen before.

“He checks boxes that we’ve never had checked before by an American chairwoman. He has an intensity of coverage and an intensity of fascination that far outstrips any person who’s previously occupied that presidency, at the least in my lifetime, ” Garrett tells David Axelrod on “The Axe Files, ” a podcast from The University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN,

Trudeau Leaves China Empty-Handed

One week ago

Justin Trudeau assured a third way for trade, preaching “progressive” values as a fix to a global order put on the defensive by populists like Donald Trump. But this week in China, he got a crash course on how difficult it is to sell.

The Canadian “ministers ” wrapped up a visit to the Asian powerhouse Thursday without launching free trade talks, despite high expectations. He’s been pushing both the U.S. chairman and China’s Xi Jinping to adopt provisions like labor, gender and environmental guarantees to calm working-class anxiety and keep trade flowing. Instead of a receptive audience, he found a culture clash.

” It’s a little unrealistic for Canada to use a’ one-size-fits-all’ approach in trade talks with countries whose conditions and aspirations are greatly different ,” said He Weiwen, deputy director of the Center for China and Globalization in Beijing and a former commerce ministry official. Both countries” have a positive attitude” toward a potential free trade bargain,” however practicality needs to be applied when it comes down to actual negotiation .”

Trade is one avenue where Trudeau and Xi — a champ of the status quoand pared-down deals focused on tariff reduction — have been moving to fill a void as the U.S. turns inward by scrapping existing bargains and stiffening its borders. But the Canadian leader, who relies heavily on his own popularity and charm abroad, himself acknowledged there was no phase in launching talks unless they stood a reasonable opportunity of culminating in an agreement.

Failure to Launch

China is just the latest stumble for Trudeau’s trade agenda. It’s largely Canada that’s been delaying a bargain to revive the Trans Pacific Partnership after Trump withdrew, to the humiliation of Japan and others. Trudeau is also pressing for progressive parts to be added to the North American Free Trade Agreement, and his chief negotiator told lawmakers this week in Ottawa the U.S. opposes the measures.

” We did put forward a extremely ambitious proposal on labor ,” Canadian Nafta negotiator Steve Verheul told Monday at a parliamentary hearing.” The U.S. is resisting that proposal .”

The trip began in Beijing, where Trudeau and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang abruptly canceled a joint press conference Monday after they were unable to set a framework to launching formal trade negotiations. Talks continued in all regions of the week to no avail.

Read more about how Justin Trudeau is faring midway through his mandate

Trudeau is in uncharted province. Canada wants a new class of trade agreement wholly — and that’s not something that China has experience with, according to Eva Busza, vice president of studies at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.” There’s probably going to have to be a lot more dialog around this and many other issues ,” she said in an interview.

The prime minister spent the trip’s last day refining his globalist message and underlining his approach.” If we move forward with simply straight and classic trade deals that focus only on tariffs and barriers and don’t think about the impact it’s going to have on citizens and communities and people, then we are going to find ourselves in a world where protectionism and inward thinking is the only alternative ,” Trudeau said Thursday at the Fortune Global Forum in the southern city of Guangzhou.

Chinese Reaction

China is a family affair for the 45 -year-old prime minister, building on ties his father began half a century ago. Pierre Trudeau and a friend traveled to the country in 1960, writing a book about the experience called ” Two Innocents in China .” It lauded Chinese hospitality and described communes where rice was provided free as the country adjusted to post-revolutionary life. Pierre went on to be “ministers “, and Xi has hailed his legacy.

Now Justin Trudeau, who also traveled to China as a young adult, is being seen by some commentators as doe-eyed in his approach to the world’s second-largest economy. Canadian media coverage also raised hackles and was seen as” irritate and ridiculous ,” according to an op-ed in the Global Times. The “ministers “, asked later about the criticism, hailed the “essential role” of a free press.

Trudeau and his Chinese equivalents nonetheless widened exploratory talks and announced small developments on beef, climate change and clean technology. They also agreed to cooperate in areas including law enforcement, youth engagement and education.

” We believe a free trade bargain will benefit both Canada and China ,” commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng told Thursday at a press conference in Beijing.” China will keep working with the Canadian side with a practical and open position to promote the China-Canada free trade zone, creating conditions to begin the trade talks as early as possible .”

Global Impasse

Trudeau’s visit discloses an impasse globally between some of the biggest economies. The U.S. is championing protectionism, Japan is struggling to get its flagship deal past Canada, China is balking at “progressive” demands and Theresa May is occupied by Brexit. Canada had been something of a bridge — seeking the TPP and completing an EU trade deal all while trying to talk Trump off the ledge to save Nafta — and now is doubling down on a new brand of trade that, so far, few others are buying.

Returning home empty handed, Trudeau downplayed the failure to launch talks.” There was ever any illusions that this would be quick or easy , ” he said. The objective result could still be a matter of postpone, rather than demise. Any talks would take years. The TPP, since re-branded as” comprehensive and progressive ,” has the potential to still be achieved, and Nafta talks have been scheduled through March.

Despite similarities with Australia — with which China has a free-trade deal — Canada would be a award for Beijing’s leadership, in agreement with the Center for China and Globalization’s He.” It’d help open the North American market and Canada would be the first G-7 country China has a free trade enter into negotiations with .”

With Canada set to host the Group of Seven summit next year, John Kirton, head of the University of Toronto’s G-7 and G-2 0 research group, said he suspects Trudeau took severely Xi’s repeated pledges this year to be a champion of the global trading order. Instead of an outright rebuff, Kirton said the believes the Chinese were” trying to exam” the Canadian leader.” It will take some time for the two to come to some reasonable accommodation on how deep, as well as broad ,” a trade bargain should be.

Facebook on Defensive as Cambridge Case Exposes Data Flaw

11 days ago

Facebook on Defensive as Cambridge Case Exposes Data Flaw

Updated on

Facebook Inc . wants you to know: this wasn’t a breach.

Yes, Cambridge Analytica, the data-analysis firm that helped U.S. President Donald Trump win the 2016 election, infringed rules when it obtained information from some 50 million Facebook profiles, the social-media company recognise late Friday. But the data received from someone who didn’t hacker the organizations of the system: a professor who originally told Facebook he wanted it for academic purposes.

He set up a personality quiz use tools that let people log in with their Facebook accounts, then asked them to sign over access to their friend lists and likes before using the app. The 270,000 users of that app and their friend networks opened up private data on 50 million people, according to the New York Times. All of that was allowed under Facebook’s rules, until the professor handed the information off to a third party.

Facebook said it found out about Cambridge Analytica’s access in 2015, after which it had the firm certify that it deleted the data. On Friday, Facebook said it now knows Cambridge actually maintained it — an infraction that got Cambridge suspended from the social network. Once that was announced, executives promptly moved on to defending Facebook’s security.

” This was unequivocally not a data breach ,” longtime Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth said on Twitter.” People chose to share their data with third-party apps and if those third-party apps did not follow the agreements with us/ users it is a violation .” Alex Stamos, Facebook’s head of security, echoed the same arguments. Cambridge denied doing anything illegal or employing the information contained in the 2016 presidential election; Facebook tells it has no way of knowing how or whether the data was used for targeting in the Trump campaign.

Facebook’s advertising business depends on users sharing their most personal data via its social network. But the company’s” not a violate” argument isn’t likely to make users feel any safer or more comfy doing so — especially given that it’s already under fire for missing that Russian actors were purchasing U.S. election ads on the site to sway voter sentiments, as well as operating fake accounts disguised as real Americans. The company has also been fending off accusations that it’s too slow to notice or react to harmful content.

U.K. Inquiry

The latest incident has raised new the issue of what technological guardrails Facebook has in place to prevent approved users from sharing sensitive datum, and how much visibility the company has into how outsiders use the data.

Facebook wouldn’t comment on those questions, saying only that it has made significant improvements in its they are able to” see and avoid violations” by app developers, such as random audits of applications use its tools to make sure they’re following the rules. And it’s no longer let developers who use Facebook’s login tools see information on their users’ friends.

The disclosure of Facebook’s actions also underscores it’s continuing struggle to anticipate negative consequences of its lack of oversight- in some cases taking action only after things go wrong. The company in the past two years has worked to understand and counteract the spread of misinformation on its site, the use of its automated ad system for racist targeting, the spread of fake user accounts, the spread of violent video, and more.

But when the company tries to explain what it’s doing, it grapples with the perception that it’s shirking responsibility for its problems, treating them as public-relations snafus instead of serious product flaws.

Stamos, the Facebook security executive, deleted his original tweets on Cambridge Analytica, saying he wasn’t so good at” talking about these things in the reality of 2018 .” Specifically, he said he didn’t know how to balance his personal notions with its own responsibility to Facebook and his co-workers, amid all the criticism.

” We have collectively been too optimistic about what we build and our impact on the world ,” Stamos wrote Saturday on Twitter.” Believe it or not, a lot of the people at these companies, from the interns to the CEOs, agree .”

Lawmakers in the U.S. and U.K. aren’t persuaded Facebook has its users’ own best interest in mind. Over the weekend the company faced criticisms from members of the Senate intelligence committee, and in London, the head of a parliamentary committee called on CEO Mark Zuckerberg to have a senior executive answer those questions.

” We have repeatedly asked Facebook about how companies acquire and hold on to user data from their site, and including with regard to whether data had been taken from people without their permission ,” Damian Collins, chair of the U.K. Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee, said in a statement.” Their answers have consistently understated the health risks, and have also been misleading to the committee .”

Read more: www.bloomberg.com

The strangest insults politicians dropped this year around the world

11 days ago

Such unparliamentary speech .
Image: getty/ mashable composite

Are you ready for the sickest burns by the most flame politicians of 2016?

Bar a certain southeast Asian leader and a president-elect, most insults thrown around in politics this year were more mild than wild. But nonetheless weird.

The Society of Clerks have compiled this year’s naughtiest express in their most recent version of publication, The Table . It’s full to the brim with terms uttered by legislators in the parliaments of countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India and South Africa.

Get ready for the tamest, lamest calls ever. Except in Australia, where they really DGAF.


– The Dr Goebbels of economic policy.

– The Australian people see you as a very unsavoury is part of the House.

– The cockroach of the Australian Labor Party.

– The question was about his dog of a policy.

– You are such a grub.

– Free trade is bullshit.

– Aren’t you the real clown, and one with a massive credibility deficit?

– You would think the foreign minister might actually guess before she opens her big fat trap and says stupid things in this parliament.

– They are the tools over the other side this is gonna be bashed.

– Here is another muppet.

– Those blokes would sell smokings to kids if they had a chance.

– Youve got to stop smoking the funny stuff. Youve got to stop smoking so much pot.

– My topic is to the village idiot.

– He is not here. He is talking to Tinker Bell on his unicorn phone.

– You nitwit.

– You knucklehead.

– You lot stink.


– You are full of crap.

– Mr Speaker, extraordinary. Living in a Canada, where that sort of idiocy pass for argument in the House of Parliament.

– That man is a jester you have no clue.

– Patronage is the K-Y Jelly of politics in an absolute orgy of political patronage the whole war room of the Conservative partys election campaign was appointed to the Senate as one big fat “F you” to the Canadian public.


– Shut up, you will be silenced.

– Can I not call a burglar a burglar?

– Who is screaming? Does not your common sense work? Are we in Parliament or in a market?

– Pimps of power.

New Zealand

– Go back to supporting marijuana.

– Battle of wits with an unarmed opponent.

South Africa

– We are going to made you physically now.

– A fool elected by a fool will be led by a fool, but the biggest fool is the buffoon who elected that fool.

– Tellytubby.

Of course, we all know what these politicians are truly trying to say.

They could take some lessons in letting it all out from Irish politician Paul Gogarty back in 2009. And yes, it actually contains coarse language.

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From the FBI to NASA, Here Are Trumps Research Cuts

14 days ago

The deep cuts to scientific research in President Trump’s first budget request met resistance from Congress. But federal research spending is already slowing. In the first seven months of 2017 the value of R& D contracts awarded by federal agencies fell 16 percentage from the same period last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Government .* The drop-off can’t be attributed just to the churn of a new administration: In the first seven months of Barack Obama’s presidency, research contracts fell merely 3 percent.

The Department of Commerce, which posted one of the biggest reductions, tells the deterioration reflects a longer-than-usual wait for Congress to pass a funding bill. Federal contractors cite other factors, including the slow pace of political appointments, Trump’s hiring freeze, his attitude toward science, and agencies bracing for future cuts.

Federal research contracts often allow funds to be expended over multiple years; money that isn’t spent in one coming fiscal year can be redirected to other programs in the next. And when money is tight, research is often the first casualty, according to Nick Nayak, former chief procurement policeman for the Department of Homeland Security.

” Intuitively, you know you should do it ,” says Nayak, who now runs Green Light Acquisition, a consulting firm.” On the other hand, you don’t know 100 percent what it’s going to produce, vs. constructing a ship–or house a wall .”

When Nigel Farage met Julian Assange

14 days ago

Why did Ukips ex-leader want to slip in unnoticed to satisfy the WikiLeaks chief at the Ecuadorian embassy?

On 9 March 2017, an ordinary Thursday morning, Ian Stubbings, a 35 -year-old Londoner, was walking down the street near its term of office in South Kensington when he spotted a familiar face. He turned and saw a human entering the redbrick terrace which houses the Ecuadorian embassy, where the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been holed up since 2012. And the familiar face? It was Nigel Farage, the person who is spearheaded Britains exit from the European Union.

I thought hang in a moment, Stubbings says. That appears a little bit dodgy. I knew the building was the embassy because I often ensure camera crews outside. But there was no one else around. I was the only person whod seen him. And I didnt know what the significance was and I still dont actually but I thought: thats got to be worth telling and I was the only person whod witnessed it.

So, at 11.22 am, he tweeted it. His handle is @custardgannet and he wrote: Genuine scoop: merely saw Nigel Farage enter the Ecuadorian embassy. Moments later, a reporter from BuzzFeed, who happened to follow him on Twitter, picked it up and tweeted him back, and Stubbings told her: No press or cameras around.

No press or cameras around, that is, until BuzzFeed turned up just in time to catch Farage leaving, 40 minutes later. Nigel Farage Just Visited the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, the headline said. Asked by BuzzFeed News if hed been visiting Julian Assange, the former Ukip leader said he could not remember what he had been doing in the building.

And that was how the world found out, by collision, that the founder of WikiLeaks, the organisation which published Hillary Clintons leaked emails a decisive advantage for Donald Trumps campaign and Farage, a friend of Donald Trump, were mutually acquainted.

In Britain, we routinely treat Farage as if he were Widow Twankey in “the member states national” pantomime that is Ukip politics. And Widow Twankey dropping by on the man who lives in the Ecuadorian embassy broom cupboard seemed just one more weird moment in the weird times in which we now live; six weeks on, it had faded into yet another episode in the surreality show that now passes for normality.

But in a week that find two major developments on either side of the Atlantic regarding the respective roles that Assange and Farage played in the US election and the EU referendum the same week in which a UK general election was announced it is an attitude that needs urgent re-examination.

For if you were to pick three the persons who have the most decisive impact on that most decisive of years, 2016, it would be hard to see beyond Trump, Assange and Farage. What was not known until Ian Stubbings decided to go for an early lunch is that there is a channel of communication between them.

Last week brought this more clearly into focus. Because in a shock developing last Thursday, the US justice department announced it had prepared charges with a view to arresting Assange. A day subsequently, the Electoral Commission announced it was investigating Leave.EU the Brexit campaign Farage headed.

Significantly, the commission said its investigation was focused on whether one or more gifts including of services accepted by Leave.EU was impermissible.

One of the grounds on which a gift can be deemed impermissible is that it comes from abroad. A fundamental principle of British democracy and our elections law is that foreign citizens and foreign companies cannot buy influence in British elections via campaign donations.

The Ecuadorian embassy in west London. Photo: Will Oliver/ EPA

Robert Mercer, the billionaire hedge fund proprietor, bankrolled the Trump campaign and his company, Cambridge Analytica, the Observer has disclosed , donated services to Leave.EU. If this issue forms part of the Electoral Commission investigation, this isnt simply a lawsuit of maybe breaking regulations by overspending a few pounds. It goes to the heart of the integrity of our democratic system. Did Leave.EU seek to obtain foreign support for a British election? And, if so, does this constitute foreign subversion?

What did or didnt happen on 9 March may perhaps expose clues to understanding this. To unravelling the links between WikiLeaks, the UK and the Trump administration an administration embroiled in ever deeper connections to the Russian state. Between Trump whose campaign was financed by Mercer and who came to power with the help of the same analytics firm now under investigation for its work with Leave.EU and Brexit.

And 9 March was the working day that all these worlds came together when the cyber-libertarian movement that Assange represents collided headfirst with the global rightwing libertarian movement that Farage represents. When Nigel Farage tripped down the steps of the Ecuadorian embassy a visit that he did not expect to be photographed or documented a beam of light was shone on a previously concealed world: a political alignment between WikiLeaks ideology, Ukips ideology and Trumps ideology that is not inevitably simply an affinity. It is also, potentially, a channel of communication.

David Golumbia, an associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in the US who has studied WikiLeaks, describes it as the moment when the lines abruptly become visible. He says: It was like the picture suddenly came into focus. There is this worldwide, rightwing, nationalistic movement that is counter to the EU, and this is present in the US and Europe and Russia, and we are just starting to understand how they do all seem to be in communication and co-ordination with each other.

In many styles, it wasnt a astonish. There are clear ideological similarities between Assange and Farage. They have both been regulars on RT, Russias state-sponsored news channel. They have both been paid indirectly by the Russian state to appear on it. Ben Nimmo, a defense analyst with the Atlantic Councils Digital Forensic Research Lab, points out that Farage has voted systematically in favour of Russian interests in the European parliament. There is very, very strong support for the Kremlin among the far right in Europe. And Farage is squarely in that bloc with the likes of the Front National in France and Jobbik in Hungary.

In February, when I started my investigation into Leave.EU and Cambridge Analytica, I fulfilled Andy Wigmore, its director of communications, for a coffee and he told him that Farage was in the US, where he was going to be making a big platform speech at CPAC, the US conservative conference. And its not going to be his normal Mr Brexit speech, he told. Hes going to be talking about the need for closer relations with Russia. Really? I told. That sounds odd.

Julian Assange making a speech from the balcony of the embassy last year. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/ Reuters

What? No route. Farage has been across the subject for years in the European parliament. It didnt make much sense at the time and, in fact, that wasnt the speech that Farage built. On 24 February, he told the crowd: Our real friends in the world speak English. The next evening he had dinner with Trump at the Washington Trump hotel and tweeted a photo of him with the Donald in the early hours of the morning.

Eleven days later, he headed off to the Ecuadorian embassy. BuzzFeeds story dropped at 1.31 pm. And, 57 minutes later, at 2.28 pm, WikiLeaks made an announcement: it would host a live press conference by Julian Assange about his latest leak, Vault 7.

The timing of this was lost in the isnt that bizarre? tone of the coverage. And, perhaps, also, its only with distance that it raises significant questions not least because the complex web of connections between the Trump administration is a challenge for even hardened US newshounds to follow.

Nearly every day of 2017 brought along forth some new nugget of fact about Trump-Russia but this was a tough week for Trump, even by his standards. The witch-hunt, as hes worded it, was collecting pace. On 2 March, his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, recused himself from the Trump-Russia investigation and, on 4 March, Trump retaliated in a tweetstorm which accused Obama of wiretapping him.

And then, on 7 March, he finally caught a transgres. Some other news came along to knock him off the front page. For more than a month, WikiLeaks had been periodically issuing cryptic tweets about Vault 7. A month passed before it eventually landed: a leak that, whether by accident or design, embarrassed the CIA.

WikiLeaks data trove had come from what it “ve called the” CIAs global hacking force, its Center for Cyber Intelligence. CIA scrambles to contain injury from WikiLeaks documents, said the headline in what Trump calls the failing New York Times . The documents apparently showed that the CIA had the capability to hack a huge number of devices , not only telephones but also TVs. In the midst of the most serious investigation of foreign cyber-interference in a current administration in US history, vivid revelations about the USs similar capability to interfere abroad had hit the headlines.

US us attorney general Jeff Sessions on WikiLeaks: Well seek to set people in jail

A highly placed linked with links to US intelligence told the Observer : When the heat is turned up and all electronic communication, you have to assume, is being intensely monitored, then those are the times when intelligence communication falls back on human couriers. Where you have individuals passing datum in ways and places that cannot be monitored.

When asked about the session in the embassy, Farage said: I never discuss where I go or who I see.

In October, Roger Stone, a Republican strategist whose links to Russia are currently under investigation by the FBI, told a local CBS reporter about a back-channel communications with Assange, because we have a good reciprocal friend that friend travels back and forth from the United States to London and we talk. Asked directly by the Observer if Nigel Farage was that friend, his spokesman said: Definitely not.

Arron Banks with Nigel Farage in 2014. Photograph: Matt Cardy/ Getty Images

And in some way, this may not be the phase. A channel exists. In the perfect blizzard of fake news, disinformation and social media in which we now live, WikiLeaks is, in many ways, the swirling vortex at the centre of everything. Farages relationship with the organisation is just one of a whole host of questions to which we currently have no answer.

Some of those questions dog Arron Banks, the Bristol businessman who bankrolled Leave.EU and who announced last week that he is standing during the elections in Clacton. When I interviewed him last month, he said: Not a single penny of Russian money has been put into Brexit though that wasnt a question I had asked him.

He is, however, openly pro-Putin and anti-democracy. Its not possible to run that entire country[ Russia] as a pure republic, he told. When asked about the investigation into Leave.EUs campaign finances, he told me: I dont dedicate a monkey about the Electoral Commission.

On Friday night, he released a letter saying that he would no longer co-operate with the commission a body mandated by parliament to uphold UK electoral law and said he would watch them in court.

As Britain lunges towards a general election to choose a government that they are able to take us out of the European union, this may be the moment be recognised that Nigel Farage is not Widow Twankey, and that this is not a pantomime. Farages politics and his relationships are more complicated than we, the British press, have previously realised. His relationship to Mercer and Cambridge Analytica, the same firm that helped Trump to power, is now under official investigation. Every day, more and more questions are being asked about that administration.

Yet, here in Britain, we plunge blindly on. Real, hard topics need to asked about what exactly these relationships are and what they mean. Dont they?

Read more: www.theguardian.com

These lawmakers want to make sure you can’t have an abortion so we asked if they ever had one

15 days ago

Image: vicky leta/ mashable

Lawmakers who are passionate about legislation that builds it nearly impossible for women to procure a legal abortion, it turns out, are not interested in discussing their own experiences with contraception and ending a pregnancy. They want to legislate the most personal selection a woman can make and yet, despite asking, we know little to nothing about their own decisions.

Last week, 77 Ohio legislators voted to ban abortion upon the detecting of fetal cardiac activity, as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, with no exception for rape or incest.

We contacted every single one of those 77 lawmakers, to see if they’d answer three topics 😛 TAGEND

1. What’s your preferred method of preventing pregnancy?
2. If you or your partner have been pregnant, at what week did you learn of the pregnancy?
3. Have you or your partner ever sought an abortion?

It was a genuine effort to determine whether these legislators would be willing to publicly take stock of their intimate lives and choices as they sought to drastically limit their own constituents’ options and constitutionally-protected rights.

“I like you all very much but I would never ask any one of you to come into a doctors office with me and make any decision for me.”

Like the average state legislature, Ohio’s official records of the general assembly is 75 percent male.

By our counting, of the 77 yes votes recorded 😛 TAGEND

66 of the “yes” votes were cast by men.

11 girls, all Republican, have voted in favour of the bill.

22 women, largely Democrats and many of them women of color, resisted the bill.

Ohio Sen. Kris Jordan( R ), Sen. Bob Peterson( R) and Rep.Timothy E. Ginter( R)( from left to right ). Peterson and Ginter declined to comment for this story and Jordan did not reply to inquiries.

Biden rips Trump: Bullying is not a foreign policy

21 days ago

( CNN) Vice President Joe Biden issued a denunciation of Donald Trump’s proposed foreign policy on Monday, repudiating the presumptive GOP nominee’s espouse of Russian President Vladimir Putin and suggesting his policies on Muslims could promote extremism.

“Our leadership does not spring from some inherent American magical. It never has. We’ve earned it over and over again through hard work, discipline, good judgment, ” Biden said during an afternoon address at a foreign policy seminar in Washington. The event was focused on setting “the member states national” security agenda for the next commander in chief.